Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2016

Grading Professor

Marshall Allen

Subject Concentration

Health & Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


In 2015, the East Harlem neighborhood – specifically the 25th Precinct – had the highest rate of criminal court summonses amongst residential areas. At 145 summonses for every 1,000 residents, it was more than four times the citywide average, according to an analysis of data obtained from the NYPD.

Since 2010, summonses have declined as the NYPD moves towards a more community-based approach to policing. But the Broken Windows theory has left a lasting and often negative effect on the East Harlem community.

This past fall, CUNY reporters investigated how summonses have affected the relationship between East Harlem residents and the NYPD. The reporters made an unprecedented effort to listen to what the community members and the 25th Precinct said about this relationship. To talk to residents, they attended community board meetings, spoke to community leaders, and visited churches, schools, barbershops, community events and polling places on Election Day.

In addition to on-the-ground reporting, the reporters created a text-message questionnaire that was completed by scores of residents. The questionnaire asked about resident’s interactions with the police. The majority of the residents surveyed agreed that the police unfairly target black and Latino residents, and most characterize their relationship with the police as hostile. Many young black and Latino residents say the police are a threat to their safety, and many say they’ve seen the police use unjustified force in the community.

But the survey also revealed something else: appreciation, and a desire to repair the relationship. When asked how they would like the police to change, East Harlem residents expressed a common refrain: officers need to get to know the neighborhood and the people in it.

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